Ted Card walked into Lakeview Gardens and cranked up the "Baker Standard Time" radio show on Saturday mornings.
He would come into his flower shop early just to tune into "Uncle Bruce" Baker's show on WHUG and catch up on work.
"For some reason, I just like that old country music and everything that Bruce did," said Card, who regularly called Baker to request a song. "The new country music is all about drinking and stuff like that. The old country music just hit me in the heart."
“Uncle Bruce” Baker, left, is pictured with Charlie Daniels, center, and Gary McIntyre, former WHUG employee.
Card and the other longtime listeners of "Baker Standard Time" lost their show's host Sunday to leukemia. Baker left behind many current and former co-workers, as well as fans of his show. He was 69.
"We are all shocked by the passing of Uncle Bruce," said Andrew Hill, director of operations and programming for Media One Group, which includes WHUG. "He was very committed to his radio show and it was his want to provide the best experience for his listeners each week he was on the air. The hard work he put into his program is inspiring to any broadcaster. It has been a very somber few days for us as we mourn the passing of our radio friend. He was an uncle to all of us."
Baker started his radio career with WKSN in 1967. He later hosted "Country 93" on WWSE on Sunday evenings and became music director of WHUG in the late 1970s. He started "Huggin' Standard Time," which later became "Baker Standard Time," in 1994.
Mark Thompson worked with Baker for many years at WKSN and WHUG, which adopted a country format in 1978.
"Bruce, at the time, was working, doing a Sunday night country oldies show on SE 93," said Thompson, who is now program director for WPIG in Olean. "Their format at the time was normally not country. Somehow, he ended up coming to work for us. I was the program director, and he became my music director. He took care of all of the music, all of the new stuff and the old stuff, getting it all scheduled and worked out for me. He loved it. He was in touch with all of the record companies out of Nashville and negotiated with them. He just loved the music. Country music was so much a part of his life. He did all of this work for me so I didn't have to do it, and he did a great job."
Thompson had a Saturday morning country countdown show each week from 9 a.m. until noon. Baker put together the countdown and ran the board. When Thompson left WHUG for the first time in 1992, Baker stayed. Baker was still there when Thompson returned in 1995. They worked together for a few more years before Thompson took the job with WPIG.
"Bruce was a great guy to work with," Thompson said. "He was just so passionate about the music. It was his life."
Baker's favorite musician was Emmylou Harris, according to Thompson.
"He was just totally in love with that woman," he said. "He would do anything and everything to go to her concerts and try to get backstage and get autographs and that kind of stuff. He was just a good guy. You could always count on him. Whenever you needed him for anything, he was always there. He's going to be missed. I don't think he had an enemy ever anywhere and any time. He was just too nice of a guy."
Hill described Baker as one of the friendliest employees he has had the pleasure of working with in his 12 years in broadcasting. He said pictures of Baker in the Media One hallway bring smiles to those who knew him.
"I remember meeting Bruce for the first time shortly after Media One Group had purchased WHUG, WKSN and WQFX," Hill said. "He shook my hand, smiled and asked me if I was a country music fan. Even when I told him, "Not really," he began to tell me of a concert he had been to and dragged a friend who did not like country music. He laughed and said, 'It only took one concert for him to become a fan.' After that conversation with him, I felt like I was talking to a family member I had not seen in a while."
Baker hosted his last show Saturday, April 14.
Hill and Media One have given Baker's listeners the opportunity to re-live their memories and submit comments about Bruce on whug.com.
"We are receiving wonderful stories from families that spent time together listening to Bruce over the years," Hill said. "Most of the stories we have received thus far are from people that never met him, but were emotionally connected to him through this intimate medium of radio."
Baker is survived by two daughters, Sheryl Baker and JoDee Russell of Jamestown, and three grandchildren. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Falconer Funeral Home. The Rev. Dayle Keefer, pastor of Fluvanna Community Church, will officiate. Friends will be received by the family from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight in the funeral home.